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MPA Mondays: Lights, Camera, Point Lobos

Point Lobos DesireMe2

“Desire Me” (1946) was filmed at Point Lobos, Credit: Point Lobos Association, California State Parks

Locals and tourists flock to Point Lobos for a variety of reasons—from the picturesque scenery, to the abundant wildlife, to the prime SCUBA diving. But did you know that in the early to mid-20th century, Point Lobos was also a popular film location? At least 47 films have been shot at the site.

Some filmmakers have drawn inspiration from the buildings at Point Lobos. Scenes from The Valley of the Moon (1914)—the first movie ever shot at the site—were filmed at the old abalone cannery, and the old Point Lobos Canning Co. was featured in both See America First (1915) and Shadows (1922).

The world-famous cypress trees at Point Lobos made their on-screen debut in the 1926 film Paid to Love, and then reappeared in Daddy Long Legs (1931).

Others filmmakers re-imagined the site as different locations in their projects. In the 1937 film Conquest, for instance, Point Lobos stood in for the island of Elba. Then, in Rebecca (1940), the site represented the coastline of Cornwall.

In the case of the 1934 film Treasure Island, Point Lobos is reputed to be the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel from which the movie is based on.

Overall, locals were enthusiastic about Point Lobos’ place in the spotlight—especially its role as a popular setting for silent films—but the mood shifted in 1929 when producers of the film Evangeline burnt a village they’d built above Headland Cove. The ensuing fire burned trees, brush and grassland, and scarred Point Lobos for almost 20 years.
Point Lobos Movies

In order to protect Point Lobos from future threats, locals pushed to have the area incorporated into the State Park system. Today, that protection has expanded to include several Marine Protected Areas—Point Lobos State Marine Reserve, Point Lobos State Marine Conservation Area, Carmel Pinnacles State Marine Reserve and Carmel Bay State Marine Conservation Area. Despite all of these new restrictions, producers continue to utilize the location because of its unparalleled natural beauty—but now with the environment in mind.

If you’re visiting Point Lobos, you can learn more about its cinematic past at the Whalers Cabin and Whaling Station Museum at Whalers Cove.

For a detailed list of every film that Point Lobos is featured in, check out the Monterey County Film Commission’s website.

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